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Transforming Prisons, Restoring Lives: Final Recommendations of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2016
132 pages

These are the final recommendations of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, which was established by Congressional mandate in 2014 as a nine-member, bipartisan, blue ribbon panel charged with developing "practical, data-driven recommendations to enhance public safety by creating a more just and efficient Federal corrections system."


The Task Force's recommendations - which have been presented to the U.S. Congress, the President, and the Attorney General - provide a blueprint for reforms to the Federal corrections system that are deemed by the Task Force to be "sensible, cost-effective strategies to reduce crime and restore lives." There are six broad recommendations, with each broad category accompanied by recommendations relevant to implementing the broad recommendation. The first broad recommendation is to reserve prison for persons convicted of the most serious Federal crimes. Among the accompanying recommendations is that drug mandatory minimum penalties be maintained only for the most serious offenses. The second broad recommendation is to promote a culture of safety and rehabilitation in Federal correctional facilities. Among the associated recommendations is to deliver adequate and appropriate in-prison programming and services based on individual risk for recidivism and identified needs. A third broad recommendation is to provide incentives for inmates to participate in risk-reduction programming. An accompanying recommendation is to focus the incentives on high- and medium-risk individuals. The fourth broad recommendation is to ensure successful reintegration after release by using evidence-based practices in supervision and support. Accompanying recommendations focus on ways to improve preparation and support for release and subsequent community-based services. The fifth broad recommendation is to enhance system performance and accountability through better coordination across agencies and increased transparency. The sixth broad recommendation is to reinvest savings from reduced incarceration to support the expansion of critical programs, supervision, and treatment. Appended methodological information, 143 notes, and approximately 150 references